French Chestnut Dressing

Chestnut dressing is the classic accompaniment to the holiday bird in France, where chestnuts are more readily available then in other parts of the world. Make this with Toulouse sausage for an authentic French taste.

You can either stuff your favorite bird with this chestnut stuffing recipe or you can bake it in a separate baking dish. I like to surround a pork roast with this dressing and bake it all together. If you can find them, I highly recommend using Toulouse Sausage to make this.

Chestnut Dressing
Farce aux Marrons

Makes 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 heaping cups cubed day-old bread
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounces sausage meat (casings removed)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shelled roasted chestnuts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cubed bread in one layer on a baking tray and bake, turning over once, for about 10 minutes or until toasted.
  2. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the onions on low to medium heat for five minutes, or until softened.
  3. Stir in the sausage meat and use a wooden spoon to break it apart. Brown sausage until cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the apple and cook another five minutes.
  5. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the chestnuts and the bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in the chicken broth and wine.

You can either stuff your favorite bird with this chestnut dressing or you can bake it in a separate baking dish (about 20 minutes at 350° will heat it through). If you decide to make it ahead of time, store separately in the refrigerator (not inside the bird, which risks to be unhygienic.)

Chestnuts in France

You'll find chestnuts used in many ways in France and they are featured in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are some of the common ways French people buy and use chestnuts:

  • Sweetened Chestnut Puree - This is the most popular way to eat a chestnut in our house. Warning: this stuff is divine tasting and you may soon find yourself with a spoon in hand and dipping in the jar for a little unplanned smackeral.
  • Chestnut Flour - Ground chestnuts are gluten free and make a tasty addition to many recipes including cakes, crepes, and breads.
  • Fresh Chestnuts - These are available in the grocery store in the fall, and in France there are lots of people that collect their own. Learn about cooking chestnuts here.
  • Canned Roasted Chestnuts - This is what I use for the following recipe and for most of my savory dishes that call for chestnuts. Buying your chestnuts in a can or jar is a great time saver for all of your chestnut recipes.

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